God Created Two Books

God Created Two Books

How have you arrived at the belief system that governs your life? God created two books we are called to use as the basis for our lives, morals, and religious practice. Since these two books have one author, they must be complimentary and cannot conflict. It is strange that many people read one book and refuse to look at the other. That is true of both atheists and religionists.

One of the books is the Bible, and it calls us to use it as a guide for life. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states it very clearly: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for training, for guiding and for moral discipline so that the man of God may be complete and adequately equipped for all good work.” Atheists reject this book because it involves denying one of a few physical pleasures and gives a purpose in living other than survival. Living selfishly has its rewards, and that is attractive.

God created two books, and the second book is the creation itself. The Bible is full of admonitions to use the things God has created as a means of knowing truth and learning how to live a productive and rewarding life. The Old Testament calls us to use what we see in the world around us as a guide to life. The entire book of Job carries that message. Numerous Psalms call us to see God’s wisdom and design and shape our beliefs in them. (See Psalms 8:3-9; 19:1; 53:1-4; 139:14-16.) Proverbs is full of admonitions to learn from the creation. (See Proverbs 6:6; 8:1-7 and 22-36.)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the created world as the basis of much of His teaching. (See Matthew 6:26-30; 7:16-20.) Romans 1:18 – 23 says of humans, “That which can be known of God lies plain before their eyes for God himself has made it clear to them. For those things of God which the eye can not see, ever since the creation of the world, are clearly perceived through the things that are made, and are clear to the eye of reason, even his eternal power and divine character so that men have no excuse.”

So God created two books, and it is clear why atheists do not wish to read and apply the Bible to guide their moral and spiritual lives. It is hard to understand why people who claim to believe in God refuse to look at the creation as a source of instruction and guidance. Some are too lazy to read the Bible and study its message, and others are too lazy to read the creation and learn its message. We need to read and study both books so that we can do what 1 Peter 3:15 tells us: “Revere Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready with your defense whenever you are called to account for the hope that is in you, yet argue gently and cautiously with meekness and respect.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Our Planet is Unique and Bizarre

Our Planet is Unique and Bizarre

Human technology has allowed more observations of our planet than most of us realize. NASA currently operates around 30 Earth-observing missions accumulating massive amounts of data. We know about changes in sea level for the Earth’s oceans within a fraction of an inch. Hourly, we can know the areas of our planet covered with snow. We measure the amount of tree cover on Earth and minute-by-minute changes in the planet’s atmosphere. The result of all this detecting and measuring is that we know that our planet is unique and bizarre.

Earth is the only planet we have seen with an active water cycle that causes weather and allows the recycling of water resources. It is also the only known planet with active plate tectonics, recycling minerals within Earth’s crust using earthquakes and volcanoes while releasing volatiles that create and maintain our atmosphere.

We have only recently understood the Moon’s role and how important it is for life to exist on Earth. We know that it was formed in a catastrophic impact that determined its location and size. The size and distance from Earth are precisely right to cause the strength of our tides and give our planet a stable 23.4-degree tilt. Without the Moon, our Sun would cause very weak tides causing our coastlines to be much different, while the planet’s axis of rotation would wobble, destabilizing the climate.

Our planet is unique and bizarre because it has been shaped by vegetation, responsible for the atmosphere’s oxygen content of 21%. The typical astronomical atmosphere of planets is dominated by methane and carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce the oxygen we breathe. Science is still struggling to understand the source of the massive amount of minerals we have on Earth. Meteorites have a small number of minerals, and while the Moon has a larger number, Earth’s variety of minerals is astounding.

Discover magazine featured an article discussing NASA’s studies of planet Earth. It stated that Earth observations have taught scientists one sure thing: “Our planet is unique and bizarre, with unusual properties that don’t match those of any other world we’ve seen, either in our own solar system or beyond it.”

For those of us who understand the science involved and believe in God as the creator, this is no surprise. Proverbs 8 finds “Wisdom” saying, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way …” We see that beautifully demonstrated as we look at our planet and marvel at the intelligence of the Designer who produced it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Earth is a Planet Too!” by Alison Klesman in the September/October 2022 issue of Discover magazine.

Our Planet’s Magnetic Field

Our Planet’s Magnetic Field

There are a vast number of things that make life on planet Earth possible. We are all aware of some, while others escape most people’s knowledge. One thing that allows life to exist on Earth is our planet’s magnetic field. 

All stars generate streams of radiation by the nature of their energy-producing systems, and our Sun is no exception. The solar wind is a constant threat to life on the Moon or Mars or in any spaceship traveling through the solar system. Studies show that Mars once had a magnetic field, but that field dissipated, leaving the surface sterile. The question for astronomers is why Earth didn’t suffer the same fate. Much of the answer to our planet’s magnetic field lies in Earth’s geology.

About 1800 miles below our feet, a liquid iron core generates our magnetic field. Recent research shows that there was a time in the distant past when Earth’s magnetic field was dissipating, but just as it reached its lowest point, it regenerated. Using various new wave detection tools, researchers have found evidence of what brought the magnetic field back.

Earth has four layers: (1) the crust where we live, (2) a thick layer called the mantle, (3) a molten outer core, and (4) A solid inner core. In the molten outer core, swirling liquid iron generates electric currents, driving a geodynamo that produces our planet’s magnetic field to protect us from the solar wind. 

We can’t go to the Earth’s core to study these layers, but minerals that contain tiny magnetic particles rise to Earth’s surface. By examining the magnetic crystals in anorthosite rocks with a superconducting quantum interference magnetometer, researchers can see a historical record of Earth’s magnetic field. That field began to regenerate as the inner core started to grow, allowing Earth to retain the water so vital to life. 

This new research helps scientists understand how Earth became a habitable planet. The implications for life on other planets are clear, and we can see that our planet is extraordinary. When we see the complexity of our planet, it takes more faith to believe that our existence is an accident than to believe it was planned and designed. The tools God used to prepare a place for life to thrive are far more complex and exceptional than anyone can understand when reading, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” 

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation and Nature.com

A Remarkable Tool of Astronomy – The JWST

A Remarkable Tool of Astronomy – The JWST image of Carina Nebula
JWST Image of the Carina Nebula with stars never seen before

On July 12, 2022, NASA released the first public images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched on December 25, 2021. JWST is a remarkable tool of astronomy that can see objects in outer space not visible to Earth-bound telescopes. Dr. Scott Acton is a 1984 Abilene Christian University graduate who worked on the JWST for almost 24 years as a wavefront sensing and controls scientist. As a Christian, he said, “Seeing these images will increase your faith.”

In February, Dr. Acton’s team was privileged to download a “throwaway” image from a JWST fine guidance sensor, which brought him to tears. He described his feelings by saying, “I realized that single image contained probably 500 galaxies that had never been seen before.”

As a remarkable tool of astronomy, the JWST enables us to expand our understanding of the incredible size and magnitude of the creation. As the tools of observation improved, astronomers realized that our Milky Way galaxy was just one of many. Thanks to the JWST, we can now see countless galaxies that astronomers have never seen before, and each one contains billions of stars, many of which have planets orbiting them.

These distant galaxies send out all kinds of light – not just visible light. The JWST can see the light invisible to our eyes and see it without the obstruction of our atmosphere. That light can tell us the history of creation and testify to the truthfulness of what the Bible says about creation.

In Job 38:6-7, God says to Job, “Upon what are the foundations of the earth fastened and who do you think laid the cornerstone when the morning stars sang together?” Dr. Acton says that he imagined the galaxies singing: “Not in any kind of language that people could understand, but certainly the emotion we can understand. I would call that emotion joy. It’s almost like the galaxies or the universe was happy that after all this time, we could finally see them.”

The pictures from this remarkable tool of astronomy will give us more evidence that the creation of the cosmos had a beginning in which time and space came into existence. We can see the evidence of design and purpose everywhere in the cosmos and on Earth. If there was a beginning, there had to be a cause, and that cause was “Elohim,” the God of Genesis 1:1.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Christian Chronicle for August 2022, pages 18-19.

Probability of a Life-Supporting Exoplanet

Planet Earth and the Probability of a Life-Supporting Exoplanet

One of my favorite columnists is Bob Berman, who writes in Astronomy magazine. Mr, Berman is a science writer who doesn’t have an ax to grind and doesn’t stoop to ridicule or hostility toward Christianity or faith in general. In the September 2022 issue, he referred to recent articles hinting that astronomers have found exoplanets better suited for life than planet Earth and examines the probability of a life-supporting exoplanet.

Berman lists a few of Earth’s unusual features. He points out that a planet being at the proper distance from its star to allow liquid water to exist is not that difficult to achieve. If you get the appropriate distance from a fire, you can have just about any temperature you want. Five other cases that Berman mentions are not that easy.

They include…
1) …having a nearby moon that stabilizes the axial tilt over long periods.
2) …not having lethal surface radiation.
3) …not having overactive volcanoes.
4) …having atmospheric gases that are used and produced by living organisms.
5) …having the right temperature underground. On Earth, surface temperatures disappear at about six inches, and at 30 feet, temperatures don’t change no matter what happens at the surface.

These are only five of the unique qualities of our home planet. Each design feature appears reasonable, but the probability of a life-supporting exoplanet depends on more than a single feature. Many planets may have one or two of the required variables, but to sustain life, ALL of them must be in place. That means you would have to MULTIPLY the probability of each individual variable to find the odds for life, especially advanced life, to exist on a planet.

The bottom line is that the probability of a life-supporting exoplanet is vastly greater than the number of stars in the cosmos. This planet is unique because it was designed by God to sustain life. Wisdom’s words in Proverbs 8:22-36 eloquently describe the process that gave us this extraordinary planet. We need to thank God for what we have been given–and take care of it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Bob Berman in Astronomy magazine, September 2022, page 12
See a list containing 47 variables that make Earth unique in “Evidence for Design in the Universe,” adapted from a paper titled “Limits for the Universe” by astronomer Hugh Ross. It’s available free under “charts” on our doesgodexist.org website at THIS LINK.

Every Discovery that Answers One Question Raises a Dozen More

Every Discovery that Answers One Question Raises a Dozen More - James Webb Telescope
James Webb Telescope

As technology progresses, we get better and better pictures from outer space. We are now seeing images from the Webb space telescope showing previously unknown details. The new information also challenges some of the assumptions of astronomy and cosmology. Researchers have an old saying: “Every discovery that answers one question raises a dozen more.” The general public may feel that we have a complete understanding of the cosmos and creation itself, but nothing could be further from the truth.,

A classic example of that is the red spot on Jupiter. Giovanni Cassini saw and made note of it 357 years ago. Astronomers have studied and analyzed that mysterious massive storm on Jupiter over and over ever since. Yet, here we are in 2022, and we still have no idea why it is red.

We are now detecting rapid radio bursts from outer space
, but we don’t understand them. Interestingly, they have a pattern similar to a beating human heart. The cosmos is full of challenges we are still trying to understand. Many of them have been brought to our attention by advances in technology.

Voyager 1 left the Earth 45 years ago and has added more to our solar system knowledge than any other probe. However, scientists still cannot understand many of its discoveries. Every discovery that answers one question raises a dozen more.

As the Webb telescope sends incredible pictures like never seen before from deep space, it’s an exciting time to be alive and view areas of the creation that human eyes have never witnessed. Every new observation and discovery tells us more about the magnitude of God’s power, wisdom, and design.

Despite all this, the primary cosmological proof of the existence of God remains. Our discoveries continue to show us that there was a beginning to time, space, and matter/energy. Since the cosmos could not have come from absolute nothingness, we know that beginning had a cause, and the nature of that cause was an intelligence – not blind opportunistic chance.

The ancient words of the psalmist in Psalms 19:1-2 continue to ring true: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day after day, they utter speech, and night after night, they show knowledge.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: apodnasa.gov for 7/17/22.

Lunar Soil Flunked the Test

Lunar Soil Flunked the Test

University of Florida researchers conducted an interesting experiment comparing plant growth in Moon soil and Earth soil. Unfortunately, the lunar soil flunked the test. NASA provided the researchers with small soil samples from three Apollo missions. After placing one gram of the precious lunar soil in each of twelve pots, they planted thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) seeds in each pot. They also planted similar seeds in sixteen pots of volcanic Earth soil.

The researchers placed both groups of plants under LED lights and fertilized them with the same nutrients. Plants grew in all of the soil samples, but the lunar soil plants grew more slowly and were smaller and scrawnier than the plants grown in Earth soil. Some of them also had a purplish color typical of plants under stress.

Analysis of the soils showed that the lunar soil was full of metallic iron and tiny glass shards, both toxic to plants. The soil also lacked nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace elements that plants need to grow.

This experiment is of great interest to those wanting to colonize the Moon or Mars. Experiments have shown that space debris pelting their surfaces has altered all planets and moons. To farm on the Moon or other planets, astronauts would have to carry soil from Earth or genetically modify the plants to accept the alien soil. For now, lunar soil flunked the test. Of course, lunar farmers would also have to provide an atmospheric environment allowing plant growth.

The Genesis account tells us that God “planted a garden eastward in Eden” (Genesis 2:8). One part of planting a garden is to prepare the soil and Earth’s environment to support the three kinds of plant life (simple plants, gymnosperms, and angiosperms) mentioned in Genesis 1:10-12.

You might not think that dirt has to be specially designed, but lunar soil flunked the test. This experiment and our knowledge about plants and the solar system shows us that God designed the soil on our planet with the just-right properties to grow the plants we need for survival. Everywhere we look on Earth, and in space, we see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News, July 2, 2022, page 4.

Science and Faith are Friends

 Science and Faith are Friends - Not Enemies

For the past week, we have explored the idea that science and faith are friends.
Both science and theology deal with the fundamental human desire to know. We are naturally curious because God made us that way. Science began with Christian believers who sought to learn more about God through His creation. A desire to learn about God through the things He has made motivated men like Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and others to create what today we call “science.”

Faith in a loving and orderly Creator opened the door to a realization that the universe is orderly and not the chaotic product of the many gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans. As a result, theology and theologians developed many of the methods of modern science. Also, it was theologians who recognized that only natural causation is open to our direct study. They knew by faith that God was the ultimate cause of the universe. But since God is not a physical being, we can only study the secondary causation.

Even though we recognize that God is the only possible cause of the universe, all we can do is discover how He did it and marvel at the precision fine-tuning of the cosmos. If we say that God “zapped” these things into existence without a process, we deny God’s engineering and architectural skills. Science and faith are friends, and we can know there is a God through the things He has made (Romans 1:20).

Today, well-known scientists use books and TV programs to proclaim atheism, materialism, and scientism. At the same time, prominent and often highly-paid religious teachers debunk science and tell people to take off their “science glasses” and put on “Bible glasses.” It’s time to call a truce in the war between science and faith. Although the Bible is scientifically accurate beyond its time, it is not a science book. Although nature can tell us much about God, only the Bible can tell us everything we need to know about the Creator of the universe and how to have a relationship with Him. Good science and good theology go hand-in-hand because science and faith are friends.

We have seen that the scientific understanding of the Cause of the universe matches the biblical description of God. Since God is outside of time, He can hear the prayers of millions of people all over the world at the same time. We can’t imagine what it would be like to be outside of time because being locked into time is all we know. If we could step out of history’s timeline and see it from God’s perspective, we could understand why God allows things to happen. We could understand the things that make us ask, “Why doesn’t God prevent that?” We could see the conclusion of all things. We would know that because of God’s wisdom, justice, and love, the conclusion is good.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Tracing the Process of Creation

Tracing the Process of Creation - James Webb Telescope
James Webb Telescope image of the early universe

As we said in our previous post, scientists have been tracing the process of creation back to almost the beginning. However, they hit a roadblock called Planck density (named for German physicist Max Planck) just before they reach the starting point. So, thus far, science finds it impossible to go back to the precise moment when the universe began.

Since tracing the process of creation back to BEFORE the cosmic creation event will probably never be possible, scientists can only study secondary causation. They can see the processes that lead to the universe we live in, but they can’t study the primary causation. Could God be the primary cause operating behind the secondary causation we can see? Science cannot say. The best science can do is to suspend judgment. Personal beliefs are not science.

Science today has set limitations on itself, confining its study to the physical realm. To go beyond that would be considered metaphysics or theology. However, some scientists don’t hesitate to make theological statements. An example is the late Carl Sagan opening the old Cosmos series on PBS television with the statement, “The cosmos is all there is or was or ever will be.” That is not a scientific statement. It is a materialistic, atheistic theological statement beyond what science can measure and examine.

Biologist Richard Dawkins is also not afraid to venture beyond science into theology when he states in River Out of Eden, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Scientists such as Sagan and Dawkins contribute to the war between science and theology, and specifically science and the Bible. All the while, they fail to acknowledge that they are making faith statements.

If you have followed these discussions for the past week, I hope they help you understand why we say science and faith are friends, not enemies. We will have some final thoughts on that tomorrow.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

The Creation Process for the Universe

The Creation Process for the Universe involves Carbon

In the past week, we have looked at the fact that the universe had a beginning. Science can trace the creation process to learn many things about why we are here.

Because the universe was created by a process, scientists can study that process and follow it back in time. They have detected the residual cosmic background microwave radiation left over from the creation event. Astronomers can look back in time to see some of the earliest stars. Chemists can analyze the elements in the stars by examining the radiation spectrum. We can know how the elements originated in the stars as we study atomic reactions.

Life is built around the carbon atom, but for a long time, it was a mystery how carbon atoms could have formed. Finally, atheist Fred Hoyle solved the mystery and was shocked by what he found. He saw the fine-tuning required to create the carbon atom, and he expressed it this way:

“Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” — Fred Hoyle

Studying the process of creation leads to the logical conclusion that there is intelligence behind it. What is the source of that intelligence? Science can trace the creation process back to almost the beginning. However, they hit a roadblock just before they reach the starting point. We will look at more on that next time.

— Roland Earnst © 2022